Couple conned Amazon out of $1.2M in tech goods — now they have to pay it back
Why it matters to you
Amazon may feel compelled to review its safeguards against such a crime following this extraordinary story.
Who doesn’t love free stuff? Erin Finan and wife Leah Finan were certainly partial to a freebie or two, the only problem being they were obtaining them via fraudulent means.
The Indianapolis couple this week formally admitted to stealing $1.2 million worth of items from online retail giant Amazon in a crime that could land them with lengthy spells in prison when they’re sentenced in November. Oh, and they have to pay back the money, too.
The Finans, both 37, were charged with the crime earlier this year after it was discovered they’d defrauded Amazon out of a huge range of goods that included GoPro cameras, Microsoft Xboxes, Samsung smartwatches, and Microsoft Surface tablets.
Court documents showed that the pair took possession of the delivered goods by falsely claiming they were damaged or not working. They would then request and sometimes receive a replacement at no charge, the United States attorney’s office in the Southern District of Indiana explained in a release.
“Amazon’s customer service policy allows, under certain circumstances, customers to receive a replacement before they return a broken item,” the release said, suggesting the originally received item was never returned. For Amazon, it’s sometimes more cost-effective to replace items following such claims, rather than investigate them. The company has safeguards in place to flag up potential violators of the system, but the Finans reportedly got around this by creating “hundreds” of false identities.
And the story doesn’t end there.
Receiving more goods than they knew what to do with, the couple passed some of the stolen items to an alleged accomplice in New York named Danijel Glumac, who earlier this year was charged with interstate transportation of stolen property and money laundering.
“The Finans allegedly sold the stolen electronics out of their van to Glumac at a price substantially below their retail value,” the release said. “Glumac then marked them up and sold and shipped them to the New York entity, which in turn sold them to the public. Glumac also allegedly advised the Finans on how to evade detection by Amazon,” the U.S. attorney’s office said.
It reported that in total, Glumac allegedly made more than $1.2 million via sales of the goods, paying around $725,000 to the Finans.
The couple recently pleaded guilty to mail fraud and money laundering in a U.S. District Court in Indianapolis, with sentencing hearings set for November 9.
Both charges carry a maximum jail time of 20 years. Under the terms of a plea agreement, the Finans will be ordered to pay Amazon the total value of the goods — $1,218,504 — making the “freebies” possibly the most expensive ever received.